Splendid Cycles Big Sale

I-5 Rose Quarter project survey asks for input on freeway covers and roadway space priorities

Posted by on November 16th, 2020 at 1:41 pm

I-5 highway covers currently shown by ODOT include vegetation and paths.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is wasting no time moving forward with the I-5 Rose Quarter project following the stamp of approval on the environmental review phase of the process.

Metro Council President Lynn Peterson (bottom left) is the lone elected official among the faces welcoming people to ODOT’s online open house.

Now that those obligatory federal hoops have been jumped through, ODOT is eager to move forward with design. Right now the project is in what planners refer to as “15% design,” which means the level of detail is just a relatively rough sketch of what might get built. ODOT’s next big milestone will be to reach “30% design” — and narrow specific design concepts down — by fall of 2021.

ODOT launched an online open house today to promote the project and garner feedback on two specific aspects of that 30% design phase: the highway covers and roadway space priorities.

Covers over 1-5 have been the source of much debate. They are key to ODOT’s rhetoric about “restored community connections”; but critics (City Observatory called them a “thinly-veiled gimmick for selling wider freeways”) say the agency is most likely to build park-like plazas instead of the high-rise residential and commercial developments that would truly spark a renaissance of the Albina neighborhoods the freeway has destroyed. So far, ODOT hasn’t committed to funding highway covers — estimated to cost between $200 and $500 million — that would be strong enough to carry buildings. Simple covers with a few park benches and bushes atop them would be much easier and cheaper to build.

Advertisement

(Slides of highway cover examples shown to the Executive Steering Committee in October.)

Wording in the open house released today says the covers could be used to reconnect the street grid, support “community activities and gathering spaces” and “potentially structures.” ODOT has hired ZGF Architects to complete an “independent” assessment of lid designs and options. At a meeting of the project’s Executive Steering Committee on October 26th ZGF shared examples of covers from Dallas (Klyde Warren Park), Boston (Fenway Center) and Phoenix (Hance Park).

Based on survey questions, ODOT is considering a host of uses for the space above the covers including: parks, athletic fields, amphitheaters, vendors and food carts, features like fountains and plantings that evoke nature, and/or educational features to highlight the old Albina neighborhood.

When it comes to structures, ODOT is gauging support for buildings that would support affordable housing, market rate housing, “structural elements prioritized by the Black community”, buildings with “affordable space for Black community organizations and programs”, “community services such as healthcare and educational facilities”, or “Affordable, culturally supportive commercial space.”

There’s also a question about what types of transportation uses should be given priority on the new street grid which will have, “finite roadway widths to accommodate a variety of potential uses.” Survey-takers can rank sidewalks, bike lanes, transit lanes, auto and freight lanes, or on-street parking.

Check out the open house and take the survey here (the survey is at the end so you have to click through a few pages).

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

51
Leave a Reply

avatar
15 Comment threads
36 Thread replies
2 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
26 Comment authors
Hello, KittyFredDavid HampstenbuildwithjoemaxD Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Nick
Guest
Nick

Sad to see this freeway expansion project continue to be forced through

Candance
Guest
Candance

This is awesome to see. Voters rejecting the SW Corridor, getting rid of Eudlay, show the level of seriousness voters want funding to go towards. Bankrolling max over the last 20 years (orange line, green line, tillikum crossing, airport max, countless street car lines, etc) have tired Portland residents apparently. Portland traffic is consistently top 15 worse in the nation even though we have funded all these pet max projects. Time to finally do sometbing about these roads

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Road-diet all the local arterial and collector streets, have a city-wide parking permit program, close all park&rides within Portland (122nd especially), ban parking on all city collector and arterial streets, traffic-calm all neighborhood cut-throughs, and overwhelm the freeways. With that kind of congestion, people will quickly switch to public transit and other alternatives.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This project will not reduce traffic congestion.

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

I think it’s awesome too! This project is going to cost $1 billion without improving traffic in Portland in the slightest, which is great as we continue to push for alternative methods of transportation. ODOT could use this money to expand some other highway that will actually increase capacity and induce more vehicle demand. I’d rather they waste the money here. And traffic on I-5 will awful for YEARS. Get people out of their cars and onto the bus/bikes

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Is it even worth pretending at public engagement?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

That depends what you want to get out of the project.

Once you have become resigned to the fact that the state legislature and governor are going to get their way and force their $750 million freeway expansion through Portland, especially as they have already “fooled” the city into timely signing off on a bunch of forms they now apparently “regret” signing, you can move on like a certain person leaving the White House will on January 20th, and try to gain things that are useful to your community as “mitigation” for this disaster of a project.

First of all there’s a $750+ million budget to work with. Even if you “only” get 1% or 2% of it for on-street bike projects, that’s still $7.5 million to $15 million you previously didn’t have. Why build caps when you can divert that huge $200 million to $500 million funding towards that elevated bicycle expressway you always wanted but were afraid to ask for, you know, the type Berlin and London are building? Let’s face it, the Albina residents long ago moved out and aren’t coming back (nor can they afford to), so might as well build that world-class city that Portland was always destined to be.

RipCityBasWorks
Guest
RipCityBasWorks

Or we could fight back. Better to fight and lose than to take their sorry excuse of “concessions”.

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

Hey David, I’m not sure the resignation tact is best for Portland. My hope is that Albina Vision takes the lead in responding to ODOT. Sure, most of the black community has been either forced out or displaced to E Portland, but that doesn’t mean we can’t follow the recs of Albina Vision and require lids for affordable housing. The entire project is so devoid of benefits, if ODOT designed buildable lids at least we might end up with some benefit for the community.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

But which community do you want to benefit? And is it really worth it?

We all know this project will ultimately fail on its objectives – only the governor and the state legislature seem confident of success.

I look at this as a classic case of opportunity costs. ODOT has given you a false choice of caps versus housing – but it’s really up to current Portland residents to decide what the actual choices should be. The intended recipients of these benefits are not returning – most in fact left the state altogether (some even moved here to NC) – the redevelopment and gentrification is now decades old. You’ve lost the fight to stop the project, betrayed by your city council and bureaucrats who now “regret” their earlier actions or inaction. Even if you aren’t willing to give up, your window of opportunities to redirect some of the most flexible project funds are also beginning to disappear if you continue to be inactive and passively let ODOT make bad choices for you.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Pretty much that. You’ve got a pill to take – do you want to swallow it or bend over for it?

Eawriste
Guest
Eawriste

How have people “inactively and passively” let ODOT make bad choices for them?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

The fact that ODOT is controlling the conversation and you (and all other Portlanders in opposition) are not. Who made a decision that you will be discussing caps or covers with ODOT to mitigate a project you don’t want? How was that decision made, to have this pointless and meaningless conversation? What influence did you have on the creation of the survey? Have you been talking with ODOT and actively asked them to create this situation and conversation? Or did you passively wait for them to start it and now you can reply?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

But which community do you want to benefit?

This question feels like one giant manipulation by ODOT, the city (when they voted for the project before voting against it), corn-fed non-profits, and well-meaning but misguided “elect” white progressives.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Yes, that’s correct, you are being manipulated. Did you not re-elect the governor who’s actively trying to drive this project down your throat? And your state representatives? Not to mention your congressman who will provide additional funding in the next pork barrel earmark? It’s the price of passively resisting this dumb project – by disengaging, you lose much of the ability to influence the process. Gandhi-style passive resistance has never been a particularly effective tool in stopping highway projects, particularly when the agencies you are trying to resist are the same as you voted (and re-voted) for.

Fred
Guest
Fred

David, you make it sound like we had a choice to vote for Kate’s opponent. The R party has become so loopy that we really have no choice but to vote Dem. It’s the result of the R party’s severe rightward shift.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

How does R feel about this project?

In Washington State, it was the Rs there who killed the CRC while the Ds in Oregon supported it.

I’d be more disturbed the the Ds rightward shift on road policy – increased speed limits, CRC, and now this project.

Allan Rudwick
Subscriber

From the beginning, people involved wanted to see buildings on the caps to keep the area above the freeway from feeling like a break in the city. ODOT always said it was impossible to do that based on their assumptions on how they wanted to build the project from the beginning (aka they were not willing to change their plan at all). If they are serious about allowing buildings on top of the freeway it will be a) quite expensive and b) a nice change of pace from their previous approach.

This project is still way too expensive and doesn’t achieve a return on investment that the public should demand from it. As such, it should be killed.

The amount of time (paid staff time and unpaid community time) that has been spent arguing about this project can never be returned. But we can and should still teach ODOT a lesson by killing the project

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

$500 million would be worth it if we re-connected the grid and added acres of buildable land, but this project doesn’t do that. I feel like for marginally more up-front cost, this project could be worth billions in future taxable development for the city.

People really do forget that one of the biggest subsidies for highways and interstates is the land they sit on. How much would the land under I-5 between the Fremont and Marguam bridges be worth? Hundreds of millions of dollars, easily. Now calculate that for every lane mile of freeway in every major city in the country. It’s billions.

Robert Saiget
Guest
Robert Saiget

trillions of dollars, we left billions after the 2008 financial crisis, it’s unbelievable that they continue to push this neo-liberal economic agenda that continues to undermine the national economy, this time under the name of a pandemic

maxD
Guest
maxD

Allan,
I don’t mean to niggle, but ODOT is proposing covers, not caps. A cap would continuous and create useable space above but require lighting and ventilation. A cap is just a bridge. The cap gaps will leave the leftover spaces above EXTEMELY loud and toxic.Add to this the fact theey will be isolated in the middle of arterial surface street with no meaningful connection to commercial, retail or residential guarantees that any outdoor space will be unable to be activated. Add to this any vegetation will require permanent irrigation and you get some very expensive, unused and unpleasant covers. I am not trying to be preachy, but ODOT is being deceitful by carefully saying covers, but showing images of caps.

dan
Guest
dan

I think you said “cap” in at least one place where you meant “cover”.

maxD
Guest
maxD

that is funny and embarrassing! that’s what I get for trying to multitask!

EP
Guest
EP

Those covers have too many holes in them. Not sure how great a park will be surrounded by interstate exhaust vents. “I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project” sounds good, but…can the rose quarter be improved without widening I-5? Because that would be more exciting. Even their .org domain seems disingenuous. i5rosequarter.org

maxD
Guest
maxD

exactly! Anyone wondering how effective a waer feature of nature-inspired places would be should go stand on the gran or MLK overpass at I-84. Very loud, very toxic and unpleasant. It is so deeply inappropriate to suggest memorializing a community you destroyed in such a miserable, forlorn space.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Those caps look like they will be an abandoned wasteland, and will likely put to use by urban campers.

Matt
Guest
Matt

The bike chop shop potential is enormous.

Jake
Guest
Jake

Yes those “Plaza’s” are just dark corners with zero eyes on the street in between I-5 and city arterials, recipe for disaster.

K2H
Guest
K2H

Anything short of building freeway covers that can structurally support buildings should not be given any consideration. Today, any one of us can drive I-5 or I-405 through Portland and see appalling examples of what happens with ODOT-owned land in/around freeways. If ODOT has already proved they cannot be held accountable to properly manage or maintain existing greenspace areas on their land in our City, then why would Portlanders have any level of confidence that somehow this situation would be any different?

The narrative that these freeway decks will be perfect places for “parks, athletic fields, amphitheaters, vendors and food carts, features like fountains and plantings that evoke nature, and/or educational features” demonstrates that ODOT hasn’t taken the time to learn or understand the community needs/wants. In addition, by presenting a few pretty pictures with lots of green to represent park space (never mind the fact it’s over a noisy and polluted freeway), it is apparent ODOT officials believe the community is gullible and un-informed enough to believe that is somehow an ideal outcome.

Finally, for an area that intersects two of the most heavily used bike commuter routes in the City (N Williams Ave & N Vancouver Ave), where 5,000+ bicyclists have been counted during peak periods on an average weekday (pre-COVID world), it seems to be amiss as a priority for this project. If this project is to move forward, I would hope to see ODOT/PBOT give the impacted bike routes some serious attention as part of the planning and design process.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Oh, they know that it’s a lie. No one at ODOT actually believes that these will be active spaces. It’s not a matter of research.

Fred
Guest
Fred

When I took the survey, I asked for bike facilities and ignored everything else. But there’s little on the survey about cycling – maybe mentioned once. Disappointing, as usual.

Ben F
Guest
Ben F

Those pictures are depressing…

qqq
Guest
qqq

Yes, actually pretty sickening. Why would anyone cross a busy street to be in a plaza cut off its surroundings in every direction by more busy streets, with the noise and exhaust of the freeway blasting up from the nearby openings? They look like places you could be mugged midday and nobody would hear you scream.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

In ODOT’s space, no one can hear you scream. Sounds like the tagline to a dystopian sci-fi thriller.

FDUP
Guest
FDUP

If you respond you are just enabling them; continue to resist!

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Come to the Dark Side! You know you want to!

Fred
Guest
Fred

I went to the survey more out of curiosity than anything else. I didn’t answer any of the questions except as they pertained to cycling. But I had the same thought: ODOT’s “public participation contractor” would hold up the survey results as proof that “The public really wants these things to happen!” But really it’s like asking you how you’d like to be killed – poison, firing squad, hanging. Just take your pick.

RipCityBasWorks
Guest
RipCityBasWorks

I completely oppose this highway expansion. Climate change absolutely needs to be a priority. We need to stop repeating the same exact urban planning mistakes of the 20th century.

squareman
Subscriber

Just a quick hot take on the lids: if they’re not strong enough for buildings, they’re not strong enough for a public park – not that I even think ODOT/PBOT would make these desirable green spaces. When people get together, shoulder to shoulder (hey, the pandemic will eventually end), say like at the start of a WNBR, the weight per square foot can be higher than with bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Look no further than what happened to the Golden Gate Bridge on its 50th birthday celebration. They had closed it briefly to traffic and opened the whole bridge to pedestrians. The bridge quickly filled up people and the overall weight on the span was greater than anything the bridge had experienced before, visibly flattening out the rise of the deck. The bridge wasn’t in any danger, but the point is, the density of people was heavier than anything the bridge had experienced before. https://www.sfgate.com/local-donotuse/article/Golden-Gate-bridge-walk-1987-anniversary-disaster-13896571.php

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

Ok, but why are you equating buildings to traffic? Are you saying that your hypothetical mass of people weigh more than mutil-story commercial buildings (with cars and people)?

Of course that’s rhetorical. Just a single flat slab of 6″ of concrete weighs 220psf, comparable to a maxed out human load. Any multistory building would have several such slabs, nevermind all the other elements of the structure.

squareman
Subscriber

I’m saying that humans-only use can be heavier than people expect. The lids, at minimum, should be able to handle structural buildings to make sure they’re structurally sound (particularly for seismic changes and activity) for any scenario.

Buildings are still mostly air space. It doesn’t apply to building on top of these lids where there would be no excavation, but often, a site where a high rise goes up is “lighter” than the previous site because of the amount of soil below grade that was removed to build underground structures. Plus, no one is talking about putting high-rises on these. What I heard is that they weren’t considered sound for any construction, light or otherwise. If that’s the case, then they shouldn’t be considered for places of public gathering either – which is all my long-winded way to say that this is all a greenwashing of the lids, trying to sell them as green park spaces when they’re just more likely to be barren blights in the neighborhood.

maxD
Guest
maxD

I know they claim to be at only 15% design, but they are proposing a lot of “green” options. From an urban design and horticultural perspective, these spaces are doomed to be unsuccessful. ODOT should be pressed now to identify who will own these spaces. Is ODOT going to pay the water bill, pick up the trash, clean the graffiti, replace the dead plants, clean up the leaves, etc for what are essentially new parks/plazas? This is substantial, on-going cost, especially for spaces that promise to be highly undesirable and isolated. Are they planning to transfer them to PP&R? that seems like an unacceptable cost/benefit to me. Since they are on the surface, will PBOT inherit them? PBOT has a miserable track record or paying to construct landscape, then abandoning all maintenance laving highly undesirable remnant spaces and offering no support, even obstruction when the community tries to revegetate or rehabilitate (see the “jughandle” at 120nd and Halsey. Will they ask Metro to pay for maintenance and irrigation? Multnomah County (expect prison crews once a year, nothing more. It seems trivial, but future ownership and maintenance will be essential for these spaces to avoid quickly becoming derelict, and I have not seen any partner agency identified.

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

Even with the caps, what do you see? So. Much. Asphalt. Yikes.

Peter W
Guest
Peter W

The direct link to the survey is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6SF5TTG

Sidenote: I found it a bit hard to answer – how can I hold any opinion on what I want “possible highway cover elements” to include when I don’t actually trust ODOT with this highway project at all?

cmh89
Guest
cmh89

It’s just gaslighting. When you know you can’t the response you want when you survey folks on a question, you just change the frame of the question. Now ODOT doesn’t need to say “people don’t support the I5 freeway expansion”, they can say “People support parks over the I5!”

dan
Guest
dan

Yes, exactly. There’s no way in the survey to provide the feedback “this is a bad idea and a poor use of tax dollars.”

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Sure there is. Just “strongly oppose” all the options then tell them what they ought to do in 100 or fewer characters. You need not answer the pulldown items. It’s very easy, I just did it.

buildwithjoe
Guest

.

It would be so easy to defund this if Portland voters contacted their lawmakers and demanded the project be defunded.

90 Lawmakers in Salem – 26 of those democrats are from the Metro Area.

I’ve made a spreadsheet of their emails and phone numbers. Most of them have not replied to my questions if they support or oppose the project. They will not answer you if you contact them, but please hound them until they do.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1hR94sTjafcsSUeYbuxZJaZYPxUECxwiDKYdQs-g4cN4/edit?usp=sharing

.. see the URL above to contact your lawmakers. The unions love this freeway, and neo liberals like Rex Burkholder who founded the BTA fully supported fast tracking the CRC freeway. The bike and pedestrian non profits are sold out on these freeway projects.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Should you contact your state legislator, ask them to reallocate the funds towards fixing orphaned state highways and returning them to their respective cities, including Powell, 82nd, parts of Sandy, Lombard, etc.

Fred
Guest
Fred

I love this enthusiasm, but I thought the board that oversees ODOT approved the project, and they had the last word. The local Portland opposition (from Ted and Chloe etc) is just window-dressing, or Opposition Theater. Somehow the people of Oregon have conferred vast powers upon a group of unelected commissioners to reshape the Oregon landscape.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The final word still rests with the governor and the legislature who provide (or deny) the funding the projects need to move forward.